Disregarding the arguments of opposition assembly members and protests of district residents, the liberal majority of the Budapest assembly voted to establish a night shelter for homeless people in the historical monument building of the capital’s City Hall, news portal Mandiner reports.
In a plenary session on Wednesday presided by Mayor Gergely Karácsony, the assembly approved an amendment of the founding document of an existing homeless shelter, adding the 5th district building to the locations where it can provide night refuge for up to 30 persons.
The proposal was first submitted to the city assembly during the pandemic crisis, when the liberal majority argued that establishing a homeless shelter in the building was part of the capital’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Péter Szentgyörgyvölgyi, conservative mayor of the district where the building is located, argued that monument regulations do not permit the building to be converted and used for this purpose, also saying that 4,700 district residents have signed a petition opposing the move.
The liberal majority of the assembly argued that the change is in preparation for a second coronavirus wave and eventually voted in favor of the amendment, during a session that was streamed live on Facebook.
The baroque building of the City Hall was designed by Austrian architect Anton Edward Martinelli in 1716 and is considered his main work in Hungary. The construction was initiated by the Roman Catholic bishop of Esztergom as a home for the invalid veterans of the Turkish Wars.
It was completed in 1735 and functioned as a veterans home until 1783, when it was converted to a military barracks and eventually taken over by the Budapest municipality in 1894, and served as district’s City Hall ever since. It is featured in the registry of historical monuments under entry 656.
Last month, the conservative majority of Budapest southern peninsula district of Csepel (21st district) prevented a similar motion by liberal assembly members there to house homeless people in the district City Hall.
Title image: Budapest City Hall (former House of Invalids) in the capital’s downtown 5th district. (Dezidor/Wikimedia Commons)